Oscar Nominations Prove That Hollywood Still Hasn’t Waked Up and Smelled the Coffee 

Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” appealed to a dangerous brand of white, male nostalgia that evoked a mythologized time that was good for them and no one else. The 2020 Oscar nominations are an embarrassingly transparent primal scream by the Hollywood establishment hearkening back to the same.

Source: The 2020 Oscar Nominations Prove That Hollywood Still Hasn’t Seen Through the Smoke | Literary Hub

For several years now, acerbic pundits–including hosts and others of the televised Academy Awards ceremony–have said that the Oscars are really the “White People’s Movie Awards.” We’re also hearing that the awards are quickly becoming irrelevant because they don’t reflect population trends or attempts by various politicians and groups at greater diversity in all areas of the country, including publishing and filmmaking.

At present, whites (other than Hispanic whites) make up 73% of the U.S. population, while African Americans are at 12.7% and Hispanics are at 16.6%. We read that by 2044, the majority race in the U. S. will no longer be white. This is the reality. Some say that minorities should be represented (in various fields) to an extent larger than their percentage of the population due to long-time discrimination. (That’s a discussion for another kind of blog.)

It would be kind of petty for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to establish a policy that 12.7% of its nominations must be African American and 16.6% must be Hispanic. Needless to say–and this is perhaps debatable–nominations are based on merit rather than race or gender. It’s easy to see, though, that the nominations are skewed toward the traditional mainstream white (or WASP) idea of America.

We can and should do better.





Will Ferrell, you have stepped out of bounds from comedy to cruel

ferrell“The family of Ronald Reagan has slammed Will Ferrell for signing on to star in and produce a comedy about the president’s agonizing battle with Alzheimer’s.” – New York Post

“Penned by Mike Rosolio, the story begins at the start of the then-president’s second term when he falls into dementia and an ambitious intern is tasked with convincing the commander-in-chief that he is an actor playing the president in a movie.” – Variety

“I saw the news bulletin — as did everyone — that you intend to portray my father in the throes of Alzheimer’s for a comedy that you are also producing. Perhaps you have managed to retain some ignorance about Alzheimer’s and other versions of dementia. Perhaps if you knew more, you would not find the subject humorous.” – Patti Davis, in Open Letter to Will Ferrell

Hollywood is famous for taking oafs, clowns and unintelligent people and poking fun at them. Perhaps we laugh our gallows humor laughs, thinking “there by the grace of God go I.” But dementia? That’s out of bounds.

Will Ferrell’s movie may never be made, some say, due to the firestorm of protest the concept has already created. Let’s hope the soothsayers are right: Alzheimer’s is not comedy and to make it so for a movie, especially one about a real person, is without any redeeming value whatsoever. What’s next, Mr. Ferrell? The hi-jinks of a cancer ward or accident victims dying in the E. R. on a Saturday night?

In her open letter, Davis writes, “Alzheimer’s is the ultimate pirate, pillaging a person’s life and leaving an empty landscape behind.” Mr Ferrell, what do you find funny about this?

I hope you’re better than this, Will Ferrell, but I’m beginning to have my doubts.


UPDATE: (April 29, 2016) Will Ferrell Walks Away From Controversial Reagan Project

Has Oprah called yet?

Me: Has Oprah called yet?
Publisher: No, but I hear she’s been busy this week.

While this version of Has Hollywood called? or Did we get anything back from the New York Times? is an on-going joke, it represents the secret hope of many writers.

metroWe hope somebody influential will see our manuscript or finished book and show it to somebody else who will take it to the right people and, voila! it’s suddenly being turned into a movie with Oscar Buzz surrounding it.

Years ago, I sent Writer’s Digest Magazine a terse letter about their featured profiles of “writers who have made it.” I haven’t read the magazine for years, but at that time, it was filled with how-to articles and tips covering everything from writing well, to creating a query letter to finding an agent or a publisher. These articles represented, I think, the best thinking at the time about turning one’s wont to write into a published novel.

oprahMost issues also featured a writer who was finally published. These profiles pointed out that the writer spent years perfecting his or her craft, revising and editing and rewriting and then went onto their saga of query letters and rejection slips and never giving up hope. That is, they dutifully followed all the magazine’s directions for success.

Then, near the end of the article, something magical happened. An agent happened to move in next door, a famous writer stopped by the house at a garage sale, somebody in the publishing biz was looking in dumpsters and found a coffee-stained draft of the novel and, voila, the writer was discovered.

After reading these profiles for years, I finally got fed up because every one of them ended with a magical event of some kind. Following the magazine’s how-to articles might have helped the writers become prepared for the magic. But none of them showed a writer succeeding without being rescued, found, discovered or stumbled over by an publishing angel who could make things happen.

Writer’s Digest never responded to my letter.

WDcoverThe results of the magazine’s approach are probably similar to the results of many biographies and feature articles about now-famous writer who were discovered by somebody sometime.

We’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that without being discovered, our books will never reach the New York Times Bestseller list. (Actually, that might be true.)

We’ve been taught to follow the best and the brightest of the gurus of the day when it comes to writing well, building a platform, paying for a good editor, promoting our books, getting interviewed and going on blog tours and heading to one convention of another.

Yeah, I’ll do all that. But secretly I know that nothing will happen until Oprah calls and the world turns on its axis causing my publisher to say, “MGM says they’re ready to rock and roll.


KIndle cover 200x300(1)Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” a novella set in the Jim Crow era of the Florida Panhandle that features Eulalie battling the KKK with folk magic.